Theatre Nurses Picket St Thomas’ Hospital!

St Thomas’ and Guys’ Hospital theatre nurses on the picket line yesterday

THEATRE nurses, members of Unite, were yesterday picketing on the second day of their current strike action at St Thomas’ hospital by Westminster Bridge.

Some of them spoke to News Line. Aara Essajee, a staff nurse at Guys hospital, said: ‘We are here to challenge the change to our working hours. Almost everyone disagreed with these changes, but they are being pushed through anyway. We’ve signed petitions and had numerous negotiations, so we were left with no choice but to strike.

‘We are starting with one day a week, and we will escalate the action if necessary. Our members are absolutely prepared to step it up.

‘I was in a meeting last week with the Chief Nurse and some others, and she told us that burnout is normal. I found that a shocking statement. I could hardly believe it, but it does summarise the management’s attitude.

‘There is a drive towards privatising the NHS, but with private healthcare you only get what you can pay for not what you need. We are carrying on to make sure that doesn’t happen. Our next strike is on July 9th.’

Kadie Kpakra, also on the picket, said: ‘I’ve worked in the Trust for years. We used to finish at 7pm then they changed it to 8pm, now they want to change it again to 9pm.

‘I am happy to finish at 8pm and to stay with a patient if they need me after that, but not to be told I have to stay till 9pm every day. The people who work here are mostly women and finishing at 9pm, then travelling home at night could put them in danger.

‘Our strike is effective because only two out of six theatres are working today. But management are prepared to cause this disruption just to impose one extra hour onto staff’.’

Shannon Lindsay, also a Theatre nurse, told News Line: ‘There’s a principle here about where do you draw the line? It’s not just about our personal lives. It’s putting patients and staff at risk. They have actually crossed the line.

‘Also, our workload has increased massively. We used to get about 20 patients a day, now it’s about 50. There are staff who have worked here for 20 years who will leave if they impose this extra hour. It’s such a waste, losing all that experience.’